Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SageTV Favorites

The trick I came up with to quickly list your most used channels can also be adapated so that you can search for near-future listings of your favorite shows. You may need to perform a couple sample searches (hint: "Heroes" is not that unique of a name) to optimize your search strings. Here's a screenshot of mine:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Skype Asterisk Update III

One of the problems with running the Skype-to-Asterisk bridge (chan_skype) in a VM is that the bridge stops working after a period of inactivity. It's been driving me bonkers for a week now as I've researched Skype, chan_skype, and Asterisk heavily, looking for the timeout. Then, on the way home, it hits me: the instance of Skype is actually running on top of VNC.

The short version: tenative (I haven't proven it yet) kudos to Bruce Nepple for this post which discusses setting VNC's timeout option. Hopefully this will fix it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Editing the Sage menu

In the wiki, where I describe how to customize the SageTV web interface menu bar, I'm not kidding when I say that you have to hit the refresh button. From the browser's point of view, the menu bar is a unique entity (separate from the rest of the content) and isn't handled in the same manner. Short of clearing all stored content from your browser, using the refresh button is the only means of updating the menu bar.

Hopefully this will head off any further questions...

Friday, May 25, 2007

MPD interface

Since I'm running MPD on the NSLU2, it can be a pain to open a terminal, fire up ncmpc, and adjust the volume or tell MPD to connect to something other than the SlimServer. Because of this, I adapted Thomas Morgan's PHP-based Client:Mpd.
It works okay without modification (be sure to edit the "host" entry in both index.php and playlist.php) but I found the text-only interface to be a bit too spread out. So, I replaced the text in his links with graphics, reordered them, changed the link colors, and added a meta refresh to index.php.
The end result is a bit cheesy (I need to find a decent set of graphics to "skin" this with) but it's functional:

Skype and Asterisk Update II

I've still not been able to get useable DTMF tones from SkyeIn to the Asterisk box. I'm reading claims that the problem is within Chan_Skype but I'm not so sure about that as the DTMF generator within the Skype client works just fine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Skype and Asterisk Update I

From various experiments, this past weekend:
  • the keypad within the Skype client produces DMTF which can control/respond to Asterisk
  • calls via SkypeIn do not
  • voice applications running on Unbuntu-based VMs tend to steadily degrade over time (but probably can be fixed)
  • the personal version of Chan_Skype is designed so that it only works with one license per machine (i.e., if you want multiple channels, you have to buy the business license which costs 5x more per channel)
  • the Chan_Skype people need to work on their versions (currently limited to outdated versions of Ubuntu and Fedora)

In short, I like the product but really hate its shortcomings.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Skype and Asterisk

It's amazing what a little extra free time allows [(heh) I'm not having to write content for class as it's summer vacation!]. In any case, I can now say that it is possible to hook Skype to Asterisk. No thanks to the worst documentation that I've seen, this side of the millenium, I now have a demo Skype-to-Asterisk bridge running. Next on the agenda, find out if DTMF works well enough to control Asterisk, move it to a production machine, and post my notes.

For now, let me say that there are a number of drawbacks which some may be able to live with, some not. For a $20 license, I don't consider it to be too bad of a product.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Busy week

I missed blogging all this week because I was in the mud, wrestling with chan_skype, trying to get it to work in an Ubuntu VM. It's a real pain to get compiled and installed. Hopefully I'll have it up and working shortly.
Shouts to the Sploitcast crew who let me sit in on a conference call. The call actually went for 4+ hours today and I think that wlc already has it edited back to about an hour. Whether my comments survived or not remains to be seen. It was fun experimenting with TalkShoe and Skype though.
To tell the truth, I mostly lurked in the call. I was actually working on getting a NSLU2 reflashed. Below is a screenshot of the final product (NSLU2 runing MPD which is listening to various streams, including the SlimServer on my desktop).

Monday, May 7, 2007


A really good video (pointed out by Dan Miessler):

Life's little lessons

[*sigh*] No matter how old you are, there's always something to learn. Today's lesson: just how greedy a company can be. Specifically, American Express. I needed to buy a $19 piece of software. Since I'm nervous about putting any information on the Internet, I wandered up to the local Walgreens to buy a pre-paid charge card. The smallest they had was $25. I bought it and paid the $3+ activation fee. (Total cost: $28.95)

I then attempted to use the card online, at a site that uses PayPal to process customer purchases. My card was denied. In calling AmEx to find out why, I learned the following: the card is only good at sales entities which are direct customers of AmEx. They won't process "third party transactions" such as PayPal. When I asked for my money back, they offered me $15. ($28.95 minus the $3.95 processing fee, minus the $10 refund fee.)

I've decided to keep the card. I'll find somewhere that accepts it (mebbe Starbucks?). However, I'm going to put about $3.95 worth of effort (this post should amount to that) into letting other people know about my experience with AmEx's Gift Card service. I should probably note here that neither their site nor the TOS document that came with the gift card talks about refusing to work with third party services (specifically PayPal). The closest the TOS comes to that is disavowing responsibility if the Merchant declines the card. (In this case, AmEx declined the transaction, not the merchant.)

Bite me, AmEx.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Semester end

Whew! That semester went quickly! Thanks to all who liked the course. If you need anything off of the class wiki, please grab it now. Because this site is now hosted at the end of a much smaller pipe than it was at the start of the semester, I'm going to consolidate the class wiki into the joatWiki. The class wiki will be around for a couple weeks but I can't make any guarantees after that.